If an Ore Extractor is placed directly against an ore block and supplied with power, it will begin harvesting the resource. Aiming at it and pressing E (by default) will open the GUI, in which power can be manually transferred from the player's suit's storage and mined ore can be removed and placed in the player's inventory.
The unupgraded extractor has the same efficiency as Super Digging, extracting ore at a rate of 10% of the total ore deposit at a rate of 4 per 30 seconds. A vein of 10,000 ore will yield 1,000 pieces of ore ready for smelting.
The unupgraded extractor requires a small amount of energy to produce ore. It has an internal storage of 500 energy. If its internal storage fills up however the extractor will cease mining until it has been emptied using its GUI. Its internal storage amount is relative to the drill head and drill motor installed
The extractor can be upgraded with two parts: New Drill Motors and new Cutter Heads. To install an upgrade, open the GUI of the ore extractor and left click the empty square next to the appropriate label. This will add the most advanced upgrade for this slot from the player's inventory. Alternatively, the player can drag and drop the chosen upgrade into its slot.
A drill motor increases the "speed" at which the excavator mines, increasing ore per minute. The increased speed comes at higher power cost, but this is significantly less than having an equivalent amount of excavators running in parallel.
The mechanism that this "speeds" up is that the miner grabs more ore from the block at a single time. This increases the ore that is put into the internal inventory every 30 seconds, but the machine still only does a mining operation every 30 seconds.
Upgrading the cutter head increases the efficiency at which the excavator extracts Ores. This means that it will be able to retrieve more ore from a vein over its lifetime. Besides the efficiency upgrade, the new cutter head will also allow the excavator to dig harder materials, which the base cutter head may not be able to cut into at all, those being Crystal Deposit and Biomass currently.
The mechanism by which this works is that for every operation the machine does, it subtracts from some block in the ore vein. Every block in the ore vein is worth a certain amount of ore. Since the base efficiency of the miner is 10%, every time it extracts 4 ore to the internal inventory, it subtracts 40 ore from somewhere in the vein. This continues until each block in the vein only contain a single ore.
Veins are made of many blocks, each block is worth a certain amount of ore. The miner pulls ore from one block every 30 seconds. Depending on upgrades, the miner subtracts a number of ore from the block in the vein based on efficiency and number of ore retrieved. This continues until the block has a single ore left.
When every block in the vein has the ore removed down to containing a single one, the miner starts clearing out the vein. The miner still only will do an operation every 30 seconds, but it will only ever extract a single ore, no matter what upgrades are in the machine. When an operation is completed, a block somewhere in the vein will be removed from the world, and the word "Clearing!" appears above the machine. This continues until the vein is gone.
When an Ore Extractor is placed adjacent to a Hopper it will automatically empty its collected resources into the Hopper, allowing for less frequent trips to the dig site before the Ore Extractor fills up and stops working. Conveyor Belts or other forms of item transport may be attached to the hopper, allowing Ores to be sent to your smelting or storage areas for processing.
- Keep in mind that the faster the Ore gets out of a Hopper and is send it to a Smelters, the faster the Bar production. Better Drill Heads and Cutter Heads will fill up a Hopper faster then a regular conveyor will be able to clear them. Consider using Transport Pipes, Motorized Conveyors or Matter Movers to boost production.
- Adding Signs onto Ore Extractors can be used to rename them.